Saint Bernardine of Siena and the Power of the Name of Jesus 

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Saint Bernardine of Siena and the Power of the Name of Jesus

Bernardine of Siena was born on September 8, 1380, feast of the Nativity of Mary. He was a member of the Albizeschi family, one of the most renowned in the Republic of Siena. No one had any idea of the future glory of the child who, according to Saint Antoninus, was destined to become “a new star in the midst of the murky darkness of the earth; to shine with the brightness of Divine gifts; to beam far and wide the bright rays of his glorious life and teachings; to lead in the fear of God, by the holiness of his example, a people whose blindness had removed it from the straight path of the heavenly Homeland.” He was Baptized on the very day of his birth.

When it came time to choose a vocation, Bernardine directed his thoughts toward the religious life. But toward what Order was he to direct his feet? He went into retreat in a solitary house, redoubled his fervor and prayed without ceasing until Divine grace dissolved his incertitude. One day while he was kneeling at the foot of his crucifix as usual and beseeching God, he suddenly heard Jesus say to him:

“My son Bernardine, you see Me hanging on the Cross, in a state of total denudation. If you love Me and want to walk in My footsteps, fasten yourself also to the cross, divested of everything.”  Continue reading

Odoric of Pordenone

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Odoric of Pordenone

A Franciscan missionary of a Czech family named Mattiussi, born at Villanova near Pordenone, Friuli, Italy, about 1286; died at Udine, 14 Jan., 1331. About 1300 he entered the Franciscan Order at Udine. Towards the middle of the thirteenth century the Franciscans were commissioned by the Holy See to undertake missionary work in the interior of Asia. Among the missionaries sent there were John Piano Carpini, William Rubruquis, and John of Montecorvino. Odoric was called to follow them, and in April, 1318, started from Padua, crossed the Black Sea to Trebizond, went through Persia by way of the Tauris, Sultaniah, where in 1318 John XXII had erected an archbishopric, Kasham, Yezd, and Persepolis; he also visited Farsistan, Khuzistan, and Chaldea, and then went back to the Persian Gull. From Hormuz he went to Tana on the Island of Salsette, north of Bombay. Here he gathered the remains of Thomas of Tolentino, Jacopo of Padua, Pietro of Siena, and Demetrius of Tiflis, Franciscans who, a short time before, had suffered martyrdom, and took them with him so as to bury them in China. From Salsette he went to Malabar, Fondaraina (Flandrina) that lies north of Calicut, then to Cranganore that is south of Calicut, along the Coromandel Coast, then to Meliapur (Madras) and Ceylon. He then passed the Nicobar Islands on his way to Lamori, a kingdom of Sumoltra (Sumatra); he also visited Java, Banjarmasin on the southern coast of Borneo, and Tsiompa (Champa) in the southern part of Cochin China, and finally reached Canton in China. From Canton he travelled to Zaitoum, the largest Chinese seaport in the Middle Ages, and Che-kiang, and went overland by way of Fu-cheu, the capital of the province of Fokien, to Quinsay (Hangcheufu), celebrated by Marco Polo. He remained in China and went to Nanking, Yangchufu, and finally travelled by the great canal and the Hwangho River to Khan-balig or Peking, the capital of the Great Khan. At that time the aged Montecorvino was still archbishop in Peking, where Odoric remained three years. On his return journey he went overland by way of Chan-si through Tibet, from there apparently by way of Badachschan to the Tauris and Armenia, reaching home in 1330. Continue reading

St. Paul the First Hermit

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St. Paul, The First Hermit

Today, the Church honours the memory of one of those men, who were expressly chosen by God to represent the sublime detachment from all things, which was taught to the world by the example of the Son of God, born in a Cave, at Bethlehem. Paul the Hermit so prized the poverty of his Divine Master, that he fled to the desert, where he could find nothing to possess and nothing to covet. He had a mere cavern for his dwelling; a palm-tree provided him with food and clothing; a fountain gave him wherewith to quench his thirst; and heaven sent him his only luxury, a loaf of bread brought to him daily by a crow. For sixty years did Paul thus serve, in poverty, and in solitude, that God, who was denied a dwelling on the earth He came to redeem, and could have but a poor Stable wherein to be born. Continue reading

St. Maurus

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St. Maurus, Abbot

AMONG the several noblemen who placed their sons under the care of St. Benedict, to be brought up in piety and learning, Equitius, one of that rank, left with him his son Maurus, then but twelve years old, in 522. The youth surpassed all his fellow monks in the discharge of monastic duties, and when he was grown up, St. Benedict made him his coadjutor in the government of Sublaco. Maurus, by his singleness of heart and profound humility, was a model of perfection to all the brethren, and was favoured by God with the gift of miracles. St. Placidus, a fellow monk, the son of the senator Tertullus, going one day to fetch water, fell into the lake, and was carried the distance of a bow-shot from the bank. St. Benedict saw this in spirit in his cell, and bid Maurus run and draw him out. Maurus obeyed, walked upon the waters without perceiving it, and dragged out Placidus by the hair, without sinking in the least himself. He attributed the miracle to the prayers of St. Benedict; but the holy abbot, to the obedience of the disciple. Soon after that holy patriarch had retired to Cassino, he called St. Maurus thither, in the year 528. Thus far St. Gregory, Dial. l. 2. c. 3, 4. 6. 1 Continue reading

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

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Our Lady of Prompt Succor

DURING the French Revolution of the late 18th century, priests and religious were persecuted and often had to go into hiding in order to administer the Sacraments and keep their vocation and apostolates. This is what happened with the Ursuline nuns of the Convent of Pont-Saint-Esprit. One of the nuns, Agathe Gensoul, who could no longer use her religious name, Mother St. Michel, still lived her vocation, starting a school with another Ursuline, Sophie Ricard. Agathe had a cousin who was an Ursuline also, but who lived in America, in New Orleans, which had been at that time under Spanish domain, but had been taken back by the French. Fearing French persecution, the Spanish Ursulines there went back to Spain, which left the convent in need of more nuns.

So Agathe or Mother St. Michel, applied to the bishop for the transfer to New Orleans, who refused her request because of the trouble in France. He told her that the Pope would have to approve her move. He, however was under house arrest. The situation was near impossible. But this did not discourage Agathe, who immediately wrote a letter to Pope Pius VII, but after three months, she was still without means to send it.

One day, while praying before a statue of Mary, she was inspired with this prayer:

“O Most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain a prompt and favorable answer to my letter, I promise to have you honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”

She not only found a way to send the letter a few days later, but the Pontiff replied within a month! He granted his permission, blessing her new undertaking, which surprised the bishop who asked to bless the statue that Mother St. Michel had carved to take with her to New Orleans.

The statue was enshrined in the Ursuline convent there on December 30,1810. Two years later, another miracle would be attributed to the Virgin under this title. A terrible fire ravaged the city in 1812, and the wind was rapidly driving it in the direction of the convent of the Ursulines. One of the nuns, Sister St. Anthony, placed a small replica of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in her window that faced the approaching fire, while Mother St. Michel prayed aloud, asking Our Lady for help. Immediately the wind changed direction of the flames.

Mary’s help has been sought from the shrine ever since, both in time of war [the Battle of New Orleans] and during the threat of hurricanes, a persistent peril on the Gulf Coast.